Going Deeper 12/6/2018

The second reading for Advent 2...
Philippians 1:3-11   I thank my God every time I remember you, constantly praying with joy in every one of my prayers for all of you, because of your sharing in the gospel from the first day until now.  I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ.  It is right for me to think this way about all of you, because you hold me in your heart, for all of you share in God's grace with me, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel.  For God is my witness, how I long for all of you with the compassion of Christ Jesus.   And this is my prayer, that your love may overflow more and more with knowledge and full insight to help you to determine what is best, so that in the day of Christ you may be pure and blameless, having produced the harvest of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ for the glory and praise of God.

Ever since I began to serve in the role of "pastor", Paul's letters to congregations and fellow pastors have taken on new meaning for me.   I am especially fond of the sentiments he expresses in his opening statements in letters, where he eloquently writes of his love and of his concerns, and often also summarizes the core of the Gospel of grace.  So much of what he writes expresses how I often feel about our family in Christ at Zion.

What most draws my attention in this text is Paul's last statement: "And this is my prayer, that your love may overflow more and more with knowledge and full insight to help you to determine what is best, so that in the day of Christ you may be pure and blameless, having produced the harvest of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ for the glory and praise of God."  Paul desires growth... growth in knowledge and insight and in productivity.  And please note: these qualities come as a package.  

Knowledge is much more than accumulated information.  In the context of our faith, "knowing" God involves relationship... even intimacy.  This means growing stronger in our relationship with God, which does involve growing in insight, in our understanding of the truths about sin and grace and God's will and workings which have been revealed to us through the Scriptures, and especially through the life and teachings of Jesus.  

The fruit of growing in knowledge and insight is growing in productivity.  We produce the fruits of faith as our hearts and minds and lives are continually transformed.  The Holy Spirit comes more and more fully into the whole of our lives, inspiring and empowering us to live more and more fully in the ways of Jesus, with lives marked by love, compassion, service, and generosity.

As pastor of Zion, this is my prayer for each of us and for all of us... may we grow in knowledge, insight, and productivity in accordance with God's good and gracious will and to His glory.

With You in Him,
Mark
If you have about ten minutes, I encourage you to view the following video on Paul's letter to the Philippians...

https://thebibleproject.com/explore/philippians/

 

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